2014 — 13 February: Thursday

More than six years after her death, echoes from Christa's time with me continue to surprise — and, sometimes, delight — me. For example, I had no idea that underneath the (now-cleared) bramble-filled jungle along the fence at the side of the house that's adjacent to my latest neighbours lurked a (now-exposed) neat row of flagstones. I knew she'd bought rather a lot of the things as I clearly recall helping her lug them into the garden initially. I just assumed they'd all ended up around the base of the corkscrew hazelnut, where the garden seat is. Not so.

Now that six years of plentiful country walking seems to have cured my hay fever, perhaps I'll be a little more garden-oriented in my dotage?

It's utterly amazing...

... what a huge difference it's made to the general 'airiness' and light levels of the back garden now that the remaining eleven trees1 have evaporated. Though (of course) I now have a great deal of raking up of bits and pieces of debris to do in the wake of yesterday's tree surgery. A couple of decorative bricks along the top of the back wall are broken too, I noted. The chief surgeon promised to pop back on Monday to remove the (broken and upended) water butt in which poor little Casper met his doom by drowning in the same week I lost Christa.

(You can't rush these things, I find.)

You have to smile...

... when a 'New Yorker' writer gets into his groove:

Since you can explain the universe only by means of some other bit of the universe, why is there a universe (or many of them)? The answer to this unanswerable question is God. He stands outside everything, "the infinite to which nothing can add and from which nothing can subtract," the ultimate ground of being. This notion, maximalist in conception, is minimalist in effect. Something that much bigger than Phil2 is so remote from Phil's problems that he might as well not be there for Phil at all. This God is obviously not the God who makes rules about frying bacon or puts harps in the hands of angels. A God who communicates with no one and causes nothing seems a surprisingly trivial acquisition for cosmology — the dinner guest legendary for his wit who spends the meal mumbling with his mouth full.

Adam Gopnik in New Yorker


... the self-justifying sh1t behind the banking bonuses here simply reminds me of this:

"those with money, those with influence, those with control over how resources are allocated in our society, are very protective of their interests, and they can rationalise infinitely the reasons why they should have more money and power than anyone else."

Barack Obama

Before he got his top job, too :-)

Having put off...

... our next walk until Sunday, I'm not that displeased to see the earlier sunshine is now already a grey drizzle as the time for 'lemonses' thunders towards me.

While tucking into...

... my (I hope) healthy prawn salad with balsamic dressing for lunch I actually half-watched the BBC TV news, so I saw the current flood pictures from both Winchester and Romsey. They, when combined with the grim-looking forecast for the next two days, sent me scurrying gently out3 for another batch of fresh 'emergency' rations. Of course, there's plenty of blue sky and a few innocent fluffy white things out there right now, but I've seen the satellite imagery of the western Atlantic... you can't fool me.

Last time I...

... read something by Barbara Ehrenreich, it was her 2001 book "Nickel and Dimed: undercover in low-wage USA". Compare and contrast:

I was educated in this scientific tradition, ending up in cell biology, which proposed that you cannot understand, say, the flight of a hummingbird until you have killed the bird, cut its wing muscles into slices a few microns thick, and subjected them to electron microscopy. Thus, a kind of unacknowledged necrophilia runs through modern, capital-intensive biology: to study something you first have to kill it. You know you have "understood" it when you arrive at a theoretical description that contains no hint of agency — just a series of mechanisms involving organelles, which you have isolated through high-speed centrifugation, and molecules, identified by a series of fractionation processes.

Barbara Ehrenreich in Baffler

It kind of removes the poetry, doesn't it?

Having sifted my way...

... laboriously through 50 web pages of Amazon's "Two Blu-rays for £10" deal, but only managing to find five titles, sadly "When Harry met Sally" went into the discards. I was left with "Die Hard", "Easy-A", "White men can't jump", and the glorious (original version of) "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three". Not such a bad haul, actually. Not bad at all.

I'm also getting a lot out of that re-examination of Julian Jaynes, but you don't want to know about that. Unless, that is, you're interested in the idea of schizophrenia being a relapse into what he called the "bicameral mind". Consciousness has long puzzled and fascinated me. What's it for, and where did it come from?



1  The one large conifer and a decade-plus-old row of ten smaller ones forming a tree hedge along the wall at the bottom of the garden. They were all dying, by the way, so shed no tears. Insufficient opportunity for adequate photosynthesis, if you ask me (not that anyone ever did).
2  Phil was the big, mean, guy worshipped in the 2000 Year Old Man's village (until zapped by lightning).
3  The fact that I'm expecting delivery of a little toy at some point tomorrow also had a bearing on the timing of my expotition.